Year

2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of Business

Abstract

This dissertation examines how companies can effectively communicate their corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities to consumers using visual and verbal information in print advertising. Prior research suggests that after the exposure of an advertisement, consumers will process the information from both cognitive and affective perspectives. Consumers’ attitudes to the advertisement and advertised product, and purchasing intentions will be generated after the processing procedure. This study first examined, whether CSR advertisements can raise consumers’ positive attitudes and purchasing intentions; second, which combination of verbal and visual information is most effective to Chinese consumers in the context of CSR advertising. A 2×3+1 experiment which includes two written messages (weak and strong CSR argument), three images (neutral, positive, and comparison pictures), and a neutral advertisement with no CSR information was employed to collect data. Consumers’ attitudes to advertising, attitudes to CSR, purchasing decision involvement, and trial intentions were collected and included in the hypothesized model based on the literature review. The results suggest that Chinese consumers rely more on CSR written messages to generate attitudes and purchasing intentions instead of visual images, but whether the visual image was edited in the advertisement contributes significantly to the consumers’ reactions. Moreover, Chinese consumers employ holistic cognitive processes when processing advertisements. Consumers’ attitudes to advertising and attitudes to CSR work as independent variables not moderators to generate attitudes to advertisements. In addition, several paths were suggested to add to the Dual Mediation Model to refine this advertising model.

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